Sunday 31 July 2011


Montessori Activity: Buttoning Frame

Make this Ribbon Button yourself instead, which is actually more fun and effective according to other mommies' experiences...

...than buying this expensive Montessori Dressing Frame - Buttoning:

Inspired by Counting Coconuts

Age: From 2.5 years old


1. To train the child’s hand-eye coordination skill.
2. To train fine motor skills.
3. To teach practical life skills.


1. 1 ribbon 25 cm long
2. 1 button approx. 2.8cm in diameter
3. 6 pieces of felt rug cloth approx. 9 x 6.5cm
4. Big large safety-pin


1. Show your child how to insert the eyelet of the felt cloth through the button.

2. Encourage your child try it.

How to Make:

1. Sew the button to the end of the ribbon.
2. Fold the felt piece into half, and cut a slit 1.4cm long.
3. Pin a safety-pin at the end of the ribbon as a stopper.

Additional Information:

I saw this today, and went right away to sew one for J. I can't believe that I actually sewed for J!!! I really dislike sewing and failed the Home Economics class in secondary school because the doll I sewed looked more like a handicapped person than a beautiful doll. Well, I haven't done too well here, I didn't manage to sew the stopper. I pinned a safety-pin as a stopper at the end of the ribbon instead. But it is good enough to serve its educational function for J.

It is expensive to buy felt in Denmark, but I used a clean and new rug that is made of similar "felt" material.

J (2Y4M26D) tried this today. He really liked it, but it was too challenging for him to insert the button through the eyelet. I assisted him with that. Once the button was through the eyelet, it was home-run. I will try out this activity again in a couple of time's time.


Montessori Acitivity: Inserting Ice-Cream Sticks

Inspired by Having Fun at Home

Age: From approx. 1.5 year old

Activity Duration: 5-10 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes

1. To train the child’s fine motor skills
2. To teach the concept of full and empty

1. 10 ice-cream sticks in a container
2. 1 Piggy-bank
3. 1 tray

1. Show your child how to insert an ice-cream stick into the piggy-bank.

2. Encourage your child try it.

Additional Information:
I have some ice-cream sticks at home and a piggy-bank. So today, I let J (2Y4M26D) tried this game. At first he was very thrilled by all the teddy bears, and started to count them. He could do it rather well, but needed to be reminded to point the stick down, instead of inserting it horizontally. Soon he got tired of inserting them one-by-one and went for the fast way by taking off the lid and pouring the ice-cream sticks into the can. He shaked it to listen to the sound.


Saturday 30 July 2011


Montessori Activity: Cutting French Beans with Scissors/Skæring med Saks/使用剪刀 [shǐ yòng jiǎn dāo]

Inspired by Hapalab

Age: 2.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes


1. To train the child’s fine motor skills
2. To inculcate life skills


1. 1 pair of scissors
2. 1 bunch of french beans rinsed

3. 1 basket (optional)


1. Demonstrate to your child by cutting the french beans with the scissors slowly one by one.

2. Then assist your child to hold the scissors with thumb and fingers in the handle himself and have him practice opening and closing the scissors.

3. As your child opens and closes the scissors, hold the straw in between the scissors while he cuts it.

Additional Information:

Here is another variation of cutting activities. I got the idea from Hapalab. One can also use spring onions. The Chinese use the scissors for many things in the kitchen - also cutting pork and meat. I also use the scissors to cut salmon fillet into bite size for the chopstícks, when making fish noodles soup.

What to do with the beans you have cut? Here is a very tasty and healthy Japanese inspired recipe.

We tried this activity today. At this age, J (2Y4M25D) found it too hard to cut the french beans with one hand, and thus he was using both hands, with my help to hold the beans.



Montessori Activity: Transferring Stones with Pliers/使用镊子/夹子[shǐ yòng niè zi/jiā zi]

Age: From 2.5 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes


1. To train the child’s fine motor skills.
2. To teach the concept of squeeze and release.
3. To teach the names of different colors.
4. To teach counting.


1. 2 containers (preferably of equal size and color)
2. Approx. 10 - 15 stones (keep it simple, depending on the age of your child)
3. 1 pair of pliers
4. 1 Tray


1. Put the bowls on the tray side by side with the pliers on your right and fill the bowl on the left with stones.

2. Show your child to transfer the stones with the pliers from the bowl on the left to the bowl on the right. Say "open" and "close" as you use the pliers. Count as you go along filling the bowl with stones.

3. Switch the bowls so that the bowl with the stones is back on the left and encourage your child to try.

Additional Information:

I bought the tool set for IKEA to keep until J is older. However, he saw it and wanted to play with it. So I took out only the plier (as naturally the rest of the tools can be too dangerous for his age right now) created this activity.

We went to granny's place this morning and did not do our usual Montessori activity. When we came home, J repeated that he wanted to "玩游戏", meaning he wanted to do Montessori activty. So I set up this activity. He could transfer the stones without problems, but he lost attention within 2 minutes. I knew that he was very tired, as it was 2.30pm, and he hadn't had this nap. So we stopped the game, and I told him that we are going to nap. He was very happy and cooperative. I pushed him out in the pram and he slept within 5 minutes. He was really tired.

This incident reminded me once again the importance of sleep to a child's mental and learning development.

I also made the mistake of putting too many stones into the container. That was too overwhelming for J.

Pretend Play: Tool Set for Children

Tool Box from IKEA 49 DKK (9.45 USD or 11.28 SGD)...


Age: From 4 years old

1. To develop the child's fine motor skills through pounding, hammering, screwing, drilling, etc.
2. To incultivate the Danish DIY tradition to Joshua.
3. To teach self-sufficiency and life skills.
4. To teach the child to give respect to blue collar work.

1. Screw-driver
2. Hammer
3. Saw
4. Drill
5. Screws
6. Nuts
7. Wing nuts
8. Bolts
9. Wrench
10. Plier

How to Play with It?

Here are some Ideas:

1. Transferring Stones with Pliers

2. Opening Battery-operated Toy with Screwdriver

Such toys are only to be played with close parental supervision, and from children who are able to obey parental/guardien instructions.

Additional Information:
The Danes have a lovely DIY (Do-IT-Yourself) tradition. My brother-in-law built his own wall, fitted his own door and room when improvising their house. I think this is due to the high cost of Danish labour cost. It costs a bomb to hire contractor. As a result, many (although not all) Danish men are very handy. In the day, they work in the offices, bank, etc. and in the evening and during summer vacation, they work on carpentry at home. White and blue work are sometimes very blurred, unlike in Asia. There is generally more respect given to non-professional and blue collar workers in Scandinavia. Class divide does exist in Denmark and Scandinavia, but to a much lesser extent than compared to Asia, China, the USA and India (esp. with India's caste system). I would like Joshua to embrace and perpetuate such egalitarian mentality from his Danish/Scandinavian roots.

Some time ago, we saw the plastic Black & Decker power tool workshop at the flea market and wanted to buy it for Joshua, but decided not to after inspecting them. Those plastic screw drivers, screws, etc. do not work so well, and seems boring. In addition, it is very expensive. We were thinking why don't we give Joshua some kid's friendly real tool and create something for Joshua to work on using real tools!

Then I saw this cute and very sophisticated and real children's tool kit in amazon. It is rather expensive at 30 USD, but the seller doesn't deliver to Denmark or Singapore, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I found something similar at IKEA. Note that the IKEA tool set is not made for children, but I think it fits perfectly as the first tool kit for children.

When Florian has the time, he would make a working board for Joshua, inspired by Counting Coconuts (I intend to ask this for my Christmas gift from Florian, to make sure that it gets done :-)). In the mean time, I have gotten all the tools ready... except the piece of wood :-)


Homemade "Black & Decker" Power Tool Workshop for Toddlers

Friday 29 July 2011


Mess-Free Montessori Activity: Montessori in a Tub

Joshua's days of doing Montessori on a potty in the bathroom is numbered... as he is almost fully toilet trained now. I am a clean and neat freak! I need to think of new ways to allow him to play, yet, kept the mess to a minimum. I really envy moms who can take all the mess. It is a talent I do not have. It gets me really distress when everything is in a mess, and I freeze and could not function. I thought of this idea - Mess-Free Montessori in a Tub. He can play with pouring water, beans, flour etc. all within this tub.

I use a 50x39x26 cm transparent smart box as the tub.

Instead of using a tray to demarcate the activity, this tub serves to demarcate the activity. The tub is thus a walled-up tray.

Now I can feel free again to let him continue his activity, while still fulfilling my needs for cleanliness :-)

Thursday 28 July 2011


J Summary (2Y4M23D) - Jumpy J...Fretty Mommy

J seems to be more jumpy and not able to sit still compared to how he was 6 months ago. He jumps from one activity to another and gives up easily, at least in my opinion and according to my expectations. He gets bored if the activity is too easy for him, he gets bored if the activity is too challenging for him, he gets bored even if the activity is just right for him!!! It gets rather tiring for me, having to always ask him to settle down, especially when it is bed time.

I looked at him and looked into his face... all the efforts I have tried to increase his attention span, focus skills, determination... they did not seem to work... my heart began to fret and I am filled with doubts... am I doing the right thing? Should I be stricter? Have I been too lenient? Shall I give him more choices? Shall I insist that he finishes that puzzle before moving on to the next toy? Have I provided a sufficiently challenging activity for him... or is it too easy... or too difficult... insecurities overflow my mind...

I prayed, "God, please still my heart. Give me the serenity to accept things I can't change, the courage, determination, energy to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

I think to myself, "If J does not attain long attention span... could I accept him and love him as he is....?"

Yes, I will. I will love him as he is, even if he remains so or regresses...

Then I think to myself, "Since it is not making progress, shall I stop working so hard... relax and just let him be... stop trying...."

No, I should not. I should continue to thrive for excellence. I should continue to do my best. If I have done my best for J, and he is how he is, I will live with no regrets, knowing that I have done my best.

No matter how discouraging I sometimes feel... no matter how tiring... and demotivating... I shall not fret. One minute at a time, one day at a time... I will continue to strive hard to build in him a good foundation and a good life habit...

The verdict shall be known in three years... but I shall press on... learn to enjoy the journey... and even if he still proves to be jumping around in three years' time... I have accepted him as he is... no more... no less.... as God has created him.

I look at his face again... I said to myself, "J, mommy accepts you as you are... Mommy will not fret... but mommy will still try to do her best".

Thanking God for stilling my fretting heart.

The Bible says in John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

In parenting, God keeps me praying, humbles me and turns my eyes towards Him each day. In God, I find wisdom and the ability to think straight. In God, He straightens out for us all our confusions... if only we go to Him... to be still before Him...

Oh God, it looks like mommy is also suffering from the short attention span towards You, and You are showing me just how it feels... as a Father, when I jump from one thought to another, without regard for You. I am slowly learning a life's lesson that You are trying to teach me. Thank you for being patient with me. Oh God, how I cannot do without your wisdom, joy, love and peace. Thank you that You are a God of love, joy, peace, wisdom.


Montessori Activity: Pouring Rice/Hælde Ris/倒米 [dào mi]

Age: From 1.5 years old.

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes


1. To train the child’s fine motor skills - also pincer grip when picking up spilled rice.
2. To teach the concept of empty and full.


1. 2 cups (preferably identical)

2. Rice in one of the cup

3. 1 Tray


1. Demonstrate to your child by pouring rice from the cup on right hand side into the cup on the left hand side.

2. Encourage and let your child try it.

Special Warning:

1. Supervise closely with the dried beans and don’t start with a toddler who is still mouthing. Remove and store away immediately after activity.

Additional Information:

J has been pouring water into cups for sometime now, and has been doing it beautifully without spilling. So I thought that this activity of pouring rice would be easy and no challenge for him. Today, J (2Y4M23D) tried this activity for the first time. To my great surprise, he wasn't very good at it. He kept spilling the rice in the beginning, and poured it in an awkward position, unlike the perfect position he used when pouring water. The picture position was after a few attempts. This tells me that when a child is able to pour liquid does not mean that the child is able to pour solid. I hope to repeat this activity again until he perfects it or he gets totally tired of it.

Wednesday 27 July 2011


Bring Baby to the Art Museum

Age: From 9 months old

Bring Baby to the art museum when he is around 9 months old or when he shows interest in picture.

We are a little late with this, as we only found the time to bring Joshua to an art museum when he is around 1 year old. But then again, better late than never :-)

Show Baby Photo Album of Himself, Daddy and Mommy

Age: From 9 months old to limitless...

Additional Information:
Amid the busy hectic life style, slow down once in a while and look at old photos together with baby... It will bring back many warm memories, and bond baby and you, as well as big baby (I mean your hubby) and you. Once in a blue moon, we showed Joshua his baby picture since he was 9 months old.

We have completed the picture album of Joshua from 0 - 6 months old a year ago, then we got busy. Today, I finally have developed the photos of him to 9 months old. The next batch would be to develop pictures of him from 9-12 month until we are up-to-date.

This evening, we sat and looked through the pictures during the bed time routine with Joshua (2Y4M22D). He could point out that the baby was him. We showed him pictures of his friend Amy when she was a baby around 11 months old. We asked him who that baby was. To our great surprise, he said "Amy". We showed him several other pictures of Amy, and he continued to be able to recognize that that was Amy. Amazing!!!

Shooting ABCs with Spray Bottle

Adapted from Make and Takes

Age: From 2.5 years old

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

1. To train the child's hand-&-eye coordination.
2. To train the child's fine motor skills with practising using the spray bottle.
3. To teach the child the alphabet in a fun way.
4. To train aiming skill
5. To provide a fun way to do cleaning of chalk board after use.

1. Kid's size easel with chalk board
2. 1 chalk
3. 1 spray bottle filled with water
4. 1 toilet roll

1. Write the letters on the chalk board.

2. Stand at a distance from the board, tell your child that you are going to shoot hard on, for example letter "A", and demonstrate how to do so.

3. Call out the targeted letter and let your child shoot/spray at it.

Additional Information:
Joshua loves to play with water and shooting. This is a wonderful activity that adds an educational element to just simply water play. You make the children learn their ABCs without realizing that they are actually learning! It also makes cleaning the blackboard a little more fun. You can also use a water gun instead of a spray bottle for this game, however, since spray bottle is free and recycled from cleaning bottle and since I am a pacifist, I am reluctant to let Joshua play with guns, even if they are plastic.

I think this activity is probably more suited for older kids, but I am going to try out with Joshua soon, hopefully this weekend!



Montessori Activity: Shoe-Lacing

Inspired by Hapalab

Age: From 3 years old

Activity Duration: 10-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 5 minutes


1. To train the child’s fine motor skills
2. To teach the child to be independent


1. 1 pair of shoes unlaced
2. 1 pair of shoe laces
3. 1 tray


1. Place both shoes on a tray on the child's workstation.

2. Take one shoe up and show your child how to thread the shoelace through the eyelet with one of the shoes.

3. Let your child try to do to thread the shoe lace through the eyelet with the other shoes. Guide him which eyelet to thread the shoe lace, if your child is younger than 3 years old.

Video Demonstration:

Here is a video demonstration by Hapalab:


Supervise closely with shoe lace. Remove and store away immediately after activity.

Additional Information:

It is really no need to buy expensive Montessori dressing frames, just use any old or existing shoes with laces. This is a pair of old children's shoes from Gap, which I bought from New York 5 years ago for my nephew. But it wasn't so good a pair of shoes for children, as it was too troublesome to put them on. I didn't know better how to choose good shoes for children at that time, since I didn't have my children of my own. This pair of shoes was recycled back to me, when J was born. However, it is a truly perfect pair of shoes for Montessori lesson!!! Bright contrasting colours, not too big and not too small.

J (2Y4M22D) tried it today 27 July 2012. I guided him which eyelet to thread through. He loves to pull the shoe-laces out of the eyelet. His attention span was very short though, and got bored of it in a few minutes. His attention span is still something that I am trying to work on and praying over. I am wondering whether I am expecting too much. What about your toddler of 2.5 years old? Are they good in paying attention?


Monday 25 July 2011


Montessori Activity: Funneling Flour

Age: From 2 years old

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Preparation Time: 3 minutes

Objective(s): To train the child’s fine motor skills

1. 1 small bowl with flour
2. 1 funnel
3. 1 bottle
4. 1 tray

1. Demonstrate to your toddler by pouring the flour from the bowl into through the funnel into the bottle slowly and repeat.

2. Encourage and let your child try it.

If you have an older toddler, you teach him/her to use the vacuum cleaner to vacuum any flour that falls out of the funnel.

Total Cost:
20 DKK for funnels for Søstrene Grene (4.75 SGD)

Additional Information:

Friday 22 July 2011


Montessori Activity: Cutting Straws with Scissors/Skæring med Saks/使用剪刀 [shǐ yòng jiǎn dāo]

Age: 2 years 3 months

Activity Duration: 5-15 minutes

Objective(s): To train the child’s fine motor skills


1. 1 pair of scissors for kids
2. 4 straws
3. 1 basket (optional)


1. Demonstrate to your child by cutting the straws with the scissors slowly one by one.

2. Then assist your child to hold the scissors with thumb and fingers in the handle himself and have him practice opening and closing the scissors.

3. As your child opens and closes the scissors, hold the straw in between the scissors while he cuts it.


1. What to do with those bits of cut straws? Save them in a bucket and when you have a lot, they will be a good base for sensory boxes.

Additional Information:

J is starting to get bored with cutting papers with scissors, although his scissors skills can still be improved. Thus, I have replaced the papers with straws, so as to bring back some some novelty to this "old" activity.

Tuesday 19 July 2011


What to Do If Your Child Exhibits Total Defiance in Public?

I mentioned in my earlier post that J (2Y4M10D) was in total defiance when we were at IKEA last Friday. He threw a tantrum, and insisted that he wanted to go to the play area. I have been doing some self-reflection. I have been thinking about what we could do better, if we encounter similar IKEA situation again in the future (which I am sure would happen again!)

I found some good advice from Chronicles of the Babywise Mom, which I intend to follow. The original post is here.

A. Before the outing, we will do the following:

1. Give Pre-Outing Warning

Next time we will warn J in advance by saying, "J, we are going to IKEA, and we will not be going to the play area. I do not want you to throw a tantrum. Say Yes Mommy." Wait for response. "While we are in the store, are you going to ask to play at the play area?" Wait for response. Then explain the consequence if he doesn't obey. "If you insist to play at the play area, then next time you don't get to come with the store with us. Mommy will go to the store alone."

2. Practice

Before leaving the house to the store, practice how to leave the store when it's time without crying.

B. During the outing, we will do the following:

1. Give Advance Notice

Give your child 10 minutes at the play area, but tell him that he only has 10 minutes, and he has to leave, when the time is up. Tell him that you do not want to see any tantrum or crying, when it is time to leave. Ask him what is the last thing he wants to play with. He may choose to go down the slide one last time and then it is done.

2. Expect a “Yes, Mommy” Reply

Ask your child to look into your eyes and say “yes, mommy”.

C. When it is time to leave and he throws a tantrum, we will do the following:

1. Stay Calm

Act like you don’t care. Don’t shout at him and don’t give him any attention.

2. Carry Your Child to a Quiet Spot

Don’t reprimand your child in front of everyone in a crowded place. Respect his dignity. Calmly carry him struggling all with all your might to a quiet spot with more privacy. Then tell him, “J, you need to stop throwing your fit right now.”

3. Show Smpathy, but DON'T be Swayed

Tell your child, “J, I know you are sad, because you want to go to the play area, but we need to go and shop for some stuff now. It is fine to be sad, but that doesn't mean you can or should throw a fit.” Don’t give in, otherwise the victorious look on J’s face would repeat itself again.

4. Tell Your Child to Stop

Tell your child what he can’t be doing, what will happen if he keeps doing it, etc. “J, if you can't stop, we are going to leave and go sit in the car." Keep a nice, calm voice throughout.

5. Leave Immediately

If your child continues to throw tantrum, LEAVE. Don’t give any threat you will not follow through on. Don’t give in to him and let him have the victory. This will show your child that his tantrum will not be accepted under any circumstance. If you are somewhere you can't fully leave (i.e. church) or if your child is throwing a fit in order to leave, go somewhere you can "leave to" like a hall, and then keep the location very dull. Don’t allow him any toys, but make him sit still with his arms folded.

6. Time-Out

Give a time-out immediately when you get home while the incident is still fresh in your child's mind. Using a timer, tell your child, "J, you were badly behaved just now. Now you are going to get a time out for 3 minutes. You need to stay in the crib until the timer goes".

7. Withdraw Privilege

If your child does throw a tantrum again at the store, don’t bring him to the store anymore. Go to the store yourself, and before doing so, make sure that you say good bye to your child, so that he knows that you are going to the store. Tell him that you are going to the store, and that he has to stay home with Daddy, because he could not behave well to obey your instructions the last time he was at the store with you.

Additional Information:
I have been concentrating on implementing Montessori activities for J, because I believe that it would aid his intellectual development, and because I derive so much fun and satisfaction planning and doing all these activities with J. But what good is intellectual development, if moral development is lacking behind?

Learning to count from 1-10 will not make J kinder, more self-controlled, or easier to manage. When it comes to parenting a child’s heart, I am treading on very inexperienced ground, and it is high time I take a break from Montessori activities to improve my ability in this area. This area is very challenging for me, and I will need a lot of prayer for God’s wisdom.

I intend to cut down a little on Montessori activities (if I can control myself!) and scale up on parenting the child’s heart.

J Summary (2Y4M14D) - Reciting Tang Dynasty Poem 回乡偶书

During bedtime this evening for the first time, he could recite almost the whole 回乡偶书. I would say the first 2 words of the line, and he would recite the rest of the line. Daddy heard it from downstairs and he came up very excitedly. J repeated it again for Daddy. However, he could not quite consistently recite the last line of this poem.

He could say 1-10 very well in Mandarin Chinese without any help from me for some time now. This evening, he could say 1-10 in Danish but missing out the number 6. This evening, he could say 1 - 10 in English if I would recite it to him once through first, but he would miss out number 8 and not very consistent.

Saturday 16 July 2011


J Summary (2Y4M11D) - Can Count Up to 7 Objects

This morning during blanket time, we were reading this book. J pointed to the parrots one-by-one and counted all five in Mandarin. Excited, we turned over to the next page, and he counted all by himself the 6 sunflowers. We then turned the following page and he counted all by himself the 7 zebra, abid a little slower than the 5 parrots. We then turned to the next page, but he got confused and did not manage to count the 8 penguins.

This is one of his favourite board books, and we have been reading it since he was a baby. We bought it from Popular Bookshop in Singapore. It is very simple, yet clear in the explanation and has very attractive brightly coloured illustration. The publisher is from China.

Seems to Understand Addition & Subtraction

A few days ago, during breakfast, I sprinkled some raisins (3-4 if I remembered) in his cereal, I took up away and fed him, and ask him how many was left. He answered correctly. Then I added 2 more raisins, and asked how many there were. He answered correctly. Then after eating all the raisins, I asked him how many there were left. He answered with that it was empty, no raisin left.

Friday 15 July 2011


J Summary (2Y4M10D) - In Total Defiance!

We went to IKEA after work today, because I would like to get some children furniture for our church nursery. After having our dinner at IKEA's restaurant, we were ready to shop.

However, J wanted to play at the play area in the restaurant. We tried to drag him out of the restaurant and shortly after, he refused to move. Daddy stayed behind while I quickly went to the children's section which is just a stone throw away. Then J threw himself down on the floor, and Daddy came to look for me.

We went back to the spot and J was gone! We tried frantically to look for him, but we could not find him. I didn't think that he would know how to make his way back to the play area, as one would have to turn left, walk a few steps, down a flight of 4-5 stairs into the very crowded restaurant, walk straight, turn right and walk to the end of the room, where the play area was located, take off shoes before going into the play area. That would be too complicated for him, I thought. But finally, as a last resort, I thought I would go and check if he was there.

How wrong I was! There J was at the play area! He had even followed the rules and taken off his velco sandals all by himself, before going in. I went back to tell Daddy that I found J, so that he would not be worried, and we went back to the play area.

We were at a loss about what to do at that instance. Then we decided that I would stay behind at the play area, while Daddy would go and shop for his stuff. Throughout the whole time, J was having a lot of fun at the play area, and at the same time, giving me this big victorious smile on his face.

As I sat there, waiting for Daddy to finish his shopping and waiting for J to finish playing, I took the chance to reflect. What could we have done better?

Daddy came back, and again, we had to struggle to get J to obey us and leave the play area.

We reached home without having purchased anything for the church nursery. After putting J to bed, Daddy and I talked. On hindsight, we both felt that we should not have allowed him to play in the play area, as it had given J the victory, after being totally defiant - throwing himself down on the floor in a tantrum, running away to the play area, without informing us or asking us for permission - he could have gotten lost!

On hindsight, we should have just left IKEA, when he threw himself down on the floor. When we have reached home, we could explain to him that he behaved so badly, and thus the privilege of going for a trip out was taken away from him. That would have taught him a lesson and kept our authority in-tact as parents.

After this incident, I will never bring J to IKEA again... if I can resist it. I will now get someone else help to buy those things we need for the church nursery.

We have parented out of the funnel in this case, and given J too much freedom. It would be hard to take it back. We all make mistakes, and we all learn.

This incident also made us realize that children can surprise us with new ability everyday. From now on, we will need to be more careful with J.

Thursday 14 July 2011


J's Typical Bento-Style Lunch Pack 6

I have been packing noodles for Joshua so that he can practise eating with chopsticks at the daycare. It was a big success for the first two days, as the lunch box came back empty. But I shouldn't have repeated it for the third time, as the noodles came back totally untouched today :-( But all the rest of the food was gone! He went for the snack!

This lunch pack consists of rice noodles tossed with thawed french bean and black bean baby food cubes, 1 tsp of soya sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil, eaten cold like soba (because his daycare doesn't provide the service of heating food); snack box consists of dry roll oats, goji berries, cashew nuts, pecans, raisins and dried cranberries; Japanese sea weed and watermelon cubes.

I prepared this the evening before, and put it in the fridge, as I won't have the time to do it in the morning.

Wednesday 13 July 2011


Fun with Watermelon for Toddlers

Idea from Montessori Moments

Age: From 2 years old

Joshua is at a very fussy phase. He doesn't like any other fruits except banana and water melon. I got this idea from Lori from Montessori Moments, that instead of cutting the watermelon into pieces for your child, give him a full ring and let him have fun practising with...

... scooping out the flesh with a spoon (fine motor skills development)
... digging out the seeds (hand-eye coordination)
... separating the soft white seeds from the hard black ones (sorting skills)
... counting the seeds (numeracy skills)
... excavating it with his hands (touch sensory experience)
Today, Joshua (2Y4M8D) tried this activity for the first time and he preferred to concentrate on excavating the site though!!!



Monday 11 July 2011


J Summary (2Y4M7D) - Using Chopsticks for the First Time at Daycare

After letting J practised with eating with chopsticks for 2-3 times, I have decided that maybe he can use chopsticks at the daycare too.

I packed rice noodles with french beans and black bean baby cubes and a pair of chopsticks for J's lunch box today. I asked J whether he ate with chopsticks at lunch and he said he did.

The noodles box came back empty and the chopsticks looked used. So it had been successful with chopsticks at the daycare today :-)

J asked for more noodles, so I am going to repeat this tomorrow. How wonderful that he is doing "Montessori" with chopsticks by himself at the daycare while mommy is at work.

J Summary (2Y4M6D) - Cutting with Scissors with One Hand

I am off work today and had some time to do Montessori activity with J. We tried again the scissors activity and today J cut by controlling the scissors with one hand successfully, but at the same time, he used his left hand to hold the other hand to give it more strength. We used the normal scissors, as the kid's scissors did not work.

Sunday 10 July 2011


Teaching Practical Life Skills to Toddlers & Preschoolers through Montessori Self-Service Stations

Joshua is growing up so fast and everyday he can do more and more things for himself. I started Montessori Practical Life activities (pouring, screwing and unscrewing lids, etc.) when he was two years old. It has been a few months now, and he is slowly mastering the practical life skills and getting familiarized with the functions and concepts. Time to for me to stop serving the Little Emperor, and focus more on the Big Emperor (I mean Florian) :-)

He is also entering a sensitive period, whereby the child wants to copy and mimic adults such as parents. Thus, I think it is a good time now to go on to the next stage of setting up kid’s friendly Self-Service Stations for him.

What’s a Self-Service Station?

Basically Self-Service Stations provide an efficient and effective means to allow your child to help himself with the daily routine tasks. A well-designed Self-Service Station thus provides a conducive environment that allows your child to copy and imitate your tasks using kid’s friendly set up (think low and horizontal) and aids your child in his growth towards independence.

It is not difficult at all to design a Self-Service Station. The key here is to keep it simple. You don’t need to have a big room in order to accommodate these Self-Service Stations. You can place them in different locations in the home. With a bit of creativity, you could squeeze in one in a little space or a corner of the kitchen, the toilet, the entrance, etc.

Here is a list of sample design of Self-Service Stations you may like to include in your home:

1. Self-Service Work Station
2. Self-Service Drinking-Water Station
3. Self-Service Snack Bar
4. Self-Service Pantry Station
5. Self-Service Closet Station
6. Self-Service Entrance Station
7. Self-Service Washroom Station
8. Self-Service Cleaning Station

It takes a little effort, planning and thinking to set up the Self-Service Stations, but in the long run, once your preschooler mastered the skills and become very good at these tasks, it would be less work for you, as you do not have to serve him or clean up after him.

Montessori Activity: Self-Service Washroom Station for Toddlers

Low shelves for toothbrush, tooth paste, comb and bath toys
Portable kid's size toilet seat
Stool to reach the sink from IKEA
Age: From 2 years old

1. To help the child to develop independence skills and self-confidence.
2. To help the child to develop the good habit of doing things himself.

1. Portable kid’s size toilet seat
2. Low shelf for tooth brush, tooth paste and comb.
3. Low shelf for bath toys
4. Stool to reach the sink and the hand towel

Additional Information:
Joshua fetches his own tooth brush since he was 18 months old. Now, Joshua (then 2Y3M) was inspired by Yang Li’s daughter (who is 8 months older and she puts the toilet seat by herself, climbs up the stairs to the seat by herself, flushes the toilet and folds the toilet seat back to its place), is also doing it by himself, with some guidance from me. Actually, I can already stop guiding him, but I have this weakness of always interrupting his work!

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